The estimated population of Maroondah is 117,484 and 1.6% of this population are people from Burma. Maroondah has the second highest number of refugees from Burma settling in Victoria. Most of Maroondah’s settlers from Burma are ethnic Karen from the Thai border area, and Chin, from the area bordering Bangladesh and India. Many would have lived in refugee camps for 10 or more years before coming to Australia.
Maroondah became a Refugee Welcome Zone in March 2013. The declaration was signed at the Harmony Day event held in Eastland shopping Mall on 23 March. Prior to this, the Mayor and Councillors invited leaders from refugee groups to an evening event to provide the opportunity for Councillors to understand, on a more personal level, the refugee story; and for the refugee leaders to share some of the issues they face.
Maroondah City Council is involved in various activities and events to assist refugee communities, including:
- Harmony Day and Refugee Week activities.
- Various cultural events such as the Chin and Karen communities’ National Days
- Australia Chin Community and Chin Community Victoria both have established offices and community areas operating from Council facilities.
- A new sports pavilion in Croydon is under construction which will also serve as a multipurpose community and sports hub for Maroondah’s Burmese community.
- Council’s Youth Services delivers the Chat Program offering young people an opportunity to practice English conversation and The Walk and Talk peer support program.
- Maternal Child Health Nurses run regular information sessions for refugee parents.
- Catch up immunisation sessions are offered to refugee families.
- The publication of The Migrant and Refugee handbook – a directory of services available for refugee and migrants settling in Maroondah.
- Involvement on Emergency Management committees to assist with engaging refugee communities.
- Council participate in various networks involving refugee health, refugee youth, employment and general settlement issues.